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German Alphabet

Learning the German alphabet is very important because its structure is used in every day
conversation. Without it, you will not be able to say words properly even if you know how to
write those words. The better you pronounce a letter in a word, the more understood you will be
in speaking the German language.
Below is a table showing the German alphabet and how it is pronounced in English, and finally
examples of how those letters would sound if you place them in a word.

German Alphabet English Sound Pronunciation Example

Aa ah as in Albert

ah Umlaut as in Age

Bb beh as in Berta

Cc tseh as in Csar

Dd deh as in Dora

Ee eh as in Emil

Ff ef as in Friedrich

Gg geh as in Gustav

Hh ha as in Heinrich

Ii ee as in Ida

Jj yot as in Julius

Kk kah as in Kaufmann
German Alphabet English Sound Pronunciation Example

Ll ell as in Ludwig

Mm emm as in Martha

Nn enn as in Nordpol

Oo oh as in Otto

oh Umlaut as in Oops

Pp peh as in Paula

Qq kuh as in Quelle

Rr err as in Richard

Ss ess as in Siegfried

ess-testt as in Super

Tt teh as in Theodor

Uu uh as in Ulrich

uh Umlaut as if the U was double to UU

Vv fow as in Viktor

Ww veh as in Wilhelm
German Alphabet English Sound Pronunciation Example

Xx iks as in Xanthippe

Yy upsilon as in Ypsilon

Zz tsett as in Zeppelin

German Diphthongs and Digraphs


Additionally to the Alphabet mentioned here [please link to the Alphabet-Lesson], the German
language consists of various diphthongs, digraphs etc.
The diphthongs are:
ai ("Laib", "Mais")
au ("auch", "Ausdruck")
u ("Bumchen", "trumen")
ay (rarely used, see "ai")
oi (rarely used, see "eu")
ui (rarely used, see "eu")
ei ("eins", "zwei", "drei")
eu ("Euro", "Bedeutung", "Leute")

The digraphs are:


aa ("Aal", "Aas")
ah ( "Mahnung", "Ahnung", "Mahnmal")
h ("ghnen", "Mhne")
ch ("ich", "-chen", "eiche"
ch ("ach", "dach", "Buch")
sch ("Scheibe", "Asche")
ng ("Zange", "Mangel")
ph (in foreign words, as in "Philosophie", "Pharmazeutika")
ie ("Tier", "Liebe")
ou (mostly in foreign words, as in "Route", "Dessous")
bb ("Ebbe")
dd ("Addition")
ee ("Leere", "Heer", "Meer")
eh ("dehnen", "Ehre", "mehr")
ff ("Affe", "Affinitt")
gh (in some dialects, usually differed as "g-h", e.g. "Klug-heit")
th (in foreign words, as in "Theorie", "Theologie", "Asthma")
dh ("Buddhismus", otherwise differed as "d-h", e.g. "Feld-herr")
ck ("dick", "hacken")
kk (in foreign words, as in "Okkultismus", "okkult")
Note: In some Northern dialects influenced by Lower German, this is not used)sp (merely at the
beginning of a word, as in "Spanien", "sparen", "spiel"-
st (merely at the beginning of a word, as in "Strae", "Stadt", "Note: In some Northern dialect
influenced by Lower German, this is not used)Stein"
rr ("irren", "verwirrt", "Drre")
ti (only within a verb followed by a vowel "Negation", "Proportion")
h ("frh", "frhstck", "fhren")
h ("Fhn", "frhnen", "Vershnung")

The alphabet and its pronunciation have a very important role in German, therefore they need
very special attention. Once you're done with German alphabet, you might want to check the rest
of our German lessons here: Learn German. Don't forget to bookmark this page.

The German Phonetic Spelling Code

Deutsches Funkalphabet - deutsche Buchstabiertafel

A wie Anton - Alpha, Bravo, Charlie... with Audio

Part 1: Introduction > Funkalphabet Chart

This phonetic spelling guide shows the German equivalent of the English/international
(Alpha, Bravo, Charlie...) phonetic spelling used to avoid confusion when spelling words on
the phone or in radio communication. It can be helpful when you need to spell your non-
German name on the phone or in other situations where spelling confusion may arise.

PRACTICE: Use the chart below to spell your name (first and last names) in German, using
the German alphabet and the German spelling code (Buchstabiertafel). Remember that the
German formula is A wie Anton.

German Alphabet with audio - if you need help with pronouncing the letters of the German
alphabet.

Das Funkalphabet - German Phonetic Spelling Code


compared to the international ICAO/NATO code
Listen to AUDIO for this chart! (below)

Germany* Phonetic Guide ICAO/NATO**

A wie Anton AHN-tone Alfa/Alpha

wie rger AIR-gehr (1)

B wie Berta BARE-tuh Bravo


C wie Csar SAY-zar Charlie

Ch wie Charlotte shar-LOT-tuh (1)

D wie Dora DORE-uh Delta

E wie Emil ay-MEAL Echo

F wie Friedrich FREED-reech Foxtrot

G wie Gustav GOOS-tahf Golf

H wie Heinrich HINE-reech Hotel

I wie Ida EED-uh India/Indigo

J wie Julius YUL-ee-oos Juliet

K wie Kaufmann KOWF-mann Kilo

L wie Ludwig LOOD-vig Lima

AUDIO 1 > Listen to mp3 for A-L

M wie Martha MAR-tuh Mike

N wie Nordpol NORT-pole November

O wie Otto AHT-toe Oscar

wie konom (2) UEH-ko-nome (1)

P wie Paula POW-luh Papa

Q wie Quelle KVEL-uh Quebec

R wie Richard REE-shart Romeo

S wie Siegfried (3) SEEG-freed Sierra

Sch wie Schule SHOO-luh (1)

(Eszett) ES-TSET (1)

T wie Theodor TAY-oh-dore Tango


U wie Ulrich OOL-reech Uniform

wie bermut UEH-ber-moot (1)

V wie Viktor VICK-tor Victor

W wie Wilhelm VIL-helm Whiskey

X wie Xanthippe KSAN-tipp-uh X-Ray

Y wie Ypsilon IPP-see-lohn Yankee

Z wie Zeppelin TSEP-puh-leen Zulu

AUDIO 1 > Listen to mp3 for A-L


AUDIO 2 > Listen to mp3 for M-Z

For a full explanation of German phonetic spelling code and its history, see Part 1.

Notes:
1. Germany and some other NATO countries add codes for their unique letters of the
alphabet.
2. In Austria the German word for that country (sterreich) replaces the official "konom."
See more variations in the chart below.
3. "Siegfried" is widely used instead of the more official "Samuel."

*Austria and Switzerland have some variations of the German code. See below.
**The IACO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty
Organization) spelling code is used internationally (in English) by pilots, radio operators,
and others who need to clearly communicate information.

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German Phonetic Spelling Code


Country Variations (German)

Germany Austria Switzerland

D wie Dora D wie Dora D wie Daniel

K wie Kaufmann K wie Konrad K wie Kaiser

wie konom wie sterreich wie rlikon (1)


P wie Paula P wie Paula P wie Peter

wie bermut wie bel wie bermut

X wie Xanthippe X wie Xaver X wie Xaver

Z wie Zeppelin (2) Z wie Zrich Z wie Zrich

Notes:
1. rlikon (Oerlikon) is a quarter in the northern part of Zurich. It is also the name of a
20mm cannon first developed during WWI.
2. The official German code word is the name "Zacharias," but it is rarely used.
These country variations may be optional.